I'll deny ever telling you this, but I really love to sing. My dad's a musician, and when I was little he would bring me on stage with him at the Flora-Bama to sing "Me and My Partner," the song he wrote for me. I'm not a great singer, I'm really not, but there is something pretty magical about being on a stage and being vulnerable with strangers, singing your guts out about something that makes you feel something. That said, I think there is something even more magical about those people on stage who can make you feel something because of their voice, and because of their song.
Megan has the kind of voice that will punch you in the stomach, while making you feel like she's giving you a big hug. It is honest and raw and powerful and unique and, well, beautiful. Her voice is a perfect personification of her as well, as she has all of these same characteristics. She used to live upstairs from me (with a girl you may remember from my first Inspired By story), and sometimes I could hear her singing and playing guitar in her room, and it was just grand.
The quintessential extrovert, Megan has a simple, raw talent not only for for performing, but for reaching out to people. In some ways I think this particular characteristic is what makes her so incredibly caring. She really, truly values people, all people, from every walk of life. She will get dewy-eyed at the thought of a homeless man on the street, or a hungry child she's never even met, because she sees their value, just as much as she sees her own family's value. And she will voice the injustice of it all unashamedly, which is possibly my favorite thing about her: She is honest, and decidedly so.
It is also her honesty that makes her so wonderfully relate-able. In a world where we feel all too alone, too much of the time, it is incomparably nice to know that we are indeed not. In her blog, "Out of Kadesh," she chronicles her life as if she were talking to her best friend. She writes these witty (also, revealing and hilariously inappropriate) stories about her personal life - work, motherhood, wifedom, etc., dropping the occasional f-bomb as needed. I probably know more about the shape of her boobs after nursing than I should, but I must say, her dedication to sharing truths has been an almost tangible inspiration for me to keep writing and sharing the world as I see it.
A Theater major, Megan graduated from Auburn University with dreams of working on Broadway. Not for the fame or money, mind you (although I’m sure that wouldn’t have hurt), but because she had something she wanted to say about this ever-lonely, yet ever-lovely world we live in. “Everyone has a way to speak,” she once told me. “For me, there’s no better way than through art.”
I’ll be honest, acting has always terrified me, though I find it to be one of the most influential and beguiling of the arts. As Thornton Wilder put it, “I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” I cry watching the Tony Awards, not because I know the actors, or even because I’ve seen a majority of the shows receiving the highest accolade they can in their genre, but because I see the power and the passion and the chance to change the world.
That chance was really all Megan had wanted up until this point in her life, and once she graduated she decided to actively pursue that dream. In 2007, she got her chance when she (and her nerdy-hot, equally kind husband, Lance) moved to Washington, D.C., and Megan started working for Signature Theater in Arlington. If you ever get the chance to meet Megan, she will undoubtedly tell you about that time she went to the Tony Awards, which she got to do in 2009 when Signature Theatre was nominated for, and received, the award for Best Regional Theatre. Megan was literally working for one of the best theaters in the nation, and was well on her way to having a pretty spectacular career in theater marketing. But sometimes, our lives have a way of surprising us.
The same year that Megan met John Kander and Stephen Sondheim, she found out she was going to have a little boy. And her life was about to change in more ways than she could imagine. Children have a way of forcing us to look at ourselves and figure out who we really are, and who we really want to be. Megan had a choice, and she realized more and more that what she wanted was not what she was currently living. Plus, she missed Christmas.
After a lot of thought, Megan decided that she wanted to raise her child at home. She wanted to see his first steps, and comfort him when he cried, and answer the bajillion questions he was sure to ask, questions that she was still trying to answer for herself. So Lance and Megan made the decision to move back down south, a difficult choice to be sure, but as Megan put it, “There’s only ONE life. And I had to choose: children or a career? Some women don’t have to choose, and some women balance both with a grace I find absolutely awe-inspiring. But I couldn’t. I chose children. I chose home.”
Now a Nashville resident and mother of two, Megan spends her days showing the world to two of the most beautiful, creative, intelligent children I have ever met. Her five-year-old, Noah, is a lot like me (or at least I hope so). Not really into hanging with big groups of people, kind of shy at first, but curious all the same, creative and full of interesting conversations when you get him one-on-one. Her two-year-old, Violet, on the other hand is the epitome of a people person. Outgoing and adorable, full of life and fun, never meets a stranger, helpful and kind...she is so much like her mama it hurts. Megan's kids are very different from one another, and different from their parents in many ways as well. I must say, it's interesting the types of people you get to meet when mamas let their babies be themselves.
I know there are a lot of ideas going around about what it means to be a stay-at-home mom, but let me go ahead and tell you right now, Megan's version of stay-at-home does not just mean staying at home. It means cooking every meal and wiping every tear and washing every vomit-stained onesie. It means playing fireman and chef and train conductor and not using the television as a babysitter. It means trying to figure out how to raise an introvert when you are an extrovert, and learning how to function on four hours of sleep, and being the kind of person your kids can look up to. I believe it’s the hardest thing a person can do, let alone do well.
As a stay-at-home mom, it would be easy to say that your dreams have to hit the back burner once you have kids, but what kind of world would we live in if none of us did what we loved? According to Megan, it’s important, if not vital, to involve your kids in the things that make you happy: “It’s good for your kids to know that you have outside interests besides them. I think it’s a lot of pressure for kids when they know that they are your everything...Your kids don’t need to be your source of happiness. That’s not their job.” You have to live your life the way you want your kids to live theirs...you have to show them the value of a fulfilled life.
In keeping with this mantra, Megan pursues her passion for theater by volunteering with Street Theater Company, a professional non-profit arts organization dedicated to pioneering innovative modern musical theatre in Nashville: "Our mission is to engage our audience with universal stories that speak to the human experience and challenge conversation, to support local artists, to provide arts education to children of all ages, and to foster a new generation of theatre arts participants and supporters.” Megan is on their Board of Directors, and has performed in several productions, including “Hair” and “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson."
Some may say that you can't do everything and do it well. I would argue that if you're doing what you love, you can't help but do it well. For Megan, she sees the negative in doing less, not more: “Whenever I’m not in a show I’m testier and less patient, I feel more frustrated by the routine of cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids, but when I’m doing things I’m passionate about at the same time, I feel more energetic...and I make more use of the time I do have with [my kids].
I don't mean to say that Megan is a perfect mom either though, and I think that's important to say. I have read many a blog post about her breaking down in the middle of the supermarket aisle because her kids have decided to play hide-and-seek, and maybe she gets a little too close to letting them do the hiding without her doing the seeking, but I think in the end, all that matters is that there isn't anything she loves more in this whole world than being a mom.
As she has said before, “I love these two people who give me fresh eyes the first time they see a red panda or snow or a turtle or a firetruck close up. It’s amazing the wonder and magic I see in the world now that I’m showing the world to these two beautiful children.”
Of course, we are all different, and we will continue to see things differently. That's the beauty of being human. But though we may see things differently, it is certainly nice to see that there are in fact other people living this crazy life with us, this sometimes unbearable, scary, crazy, wonderful life. That sometimes it's ok to be sad, because other people get sad too. That sometimes it's ok to want to lock your kids in another room and throw away the key, because other people sometimes want to do that too (please note that Casara Photo in no way condones locking your kids up and throwing away the key...). It’s also ok to admit though, that when you are doing what you love, even if you’re having a really awful day, the world is pretty f-ing awesome.
Because, as Megan writes, “tomorrow morning will always dawn brighter and earlier than I expect, and there will be feet wedged firmly in the small of my back, and there will be a soggy diapered toddler crawling on top of my head, and there will be coffee and a husband dashing out the door, and I will look at my precious children, my beautiful wonders, my gifts to the world, and they will always be everything to me. Every single damn thing."
Megan has a great voice, and she could have chosen to use it for a lot of things. In the end, she chose home. Because that is what matters most to her. Some may find that ordinary, but in my not-so-humble opinion, there is nothing more extraordinary, nothing more world-changing, than creating humans and then raising them to be decent humans.
Maybe Megan's dreams have changed over the years, but I don’t think her voice has. Whether she's performing for her local community or writing to the world at large or being a wife or being a mom, Megan’s voice is still that same raw, honest, loud, hilarious, compassionate, beautiful sound we hear every time she's around (And sometimes it’s really loud cause she’s had a margarita or four at this place.)
In the end, we all have to choose what matters the most to us, and we have to choose it every day. That's the only way we're going to make a real difference. As Megan so effortlessly reminds me, the world would suck if it weren't for people using their gifts to make it better. So thanks for making it better, Megs.
To see more photos from my time with Megan, Lance, Noah and Violet, click here. To read more stories from the "Inspired By" series click here. Be sure to keep up with Megan on her blog Out of Kadesh too, and read some of her fabulous tips on mommyhood on the Nashville Mom's blog. Have your own thoughts on being a mom? Please comment below!
Story and photos copyright Jessi Lambert of Casara Photo. For inquiries, please email me.